Fire Emblem: Three Houses was my GOTY for 2019, so it’s no surprise that it makes it onto my ‘Greatest Games of the Decade’ list. As someone that isn’t a huge fan of the franchise (Awakening was the first I’d played and only one I liked before playing Three Houses), it had to do a lot to impress and stick with me. It’s safe to say it did, as I became hooked on the game for the entire 55 hour playthrough. Let me tell you why it was such a brilliant game. If you want to read my full review, then click here!
You play as Byleth, either a male or female mercenary, who gets taken on as a professor at the officers academy at Garreg Mach Monastery. There, you will choose one of three houses to teach and train. The story is intriguing, if initially quite slow, but it does become fully engrossing especially by the midway point. It also helps that there are major twists and turns, coupled with much replay value. I’m slowly going through my second run-through with the Blue Lions house. However, I couldn’t talk about this game without mentioning the extensive cast of characters. It’s these that make the whole experience so much better, where they are all so much different to one another. They interact with each other and their bonds/relationships develop. The support conversations (these unlock after two characters have improved their bonds enough) are always interesting and offer so many hilarious and interesting moments of development. Some people might get bored of these, but they were a highlight and something I looked forward to.
The strategic combat is as strong as it has always been in the series. There are some improvements and new additions as well. The new battalions system makes the battles feel like they are actually large-scale confrontations. Furthermore, depending on the difficulty you choose every single move counts, leading to a death and losing that person forever. There is a time-reversing feature with limited usage if you do make a few mistakes. However, the permadeath system is entirely optional which is greatly appreciated. You also get to explore the monastery and take part in a variety of activities. Planning out each month to make the most out of them is a must, where you have to balance out exploration, battle skirmishes, and teaching. The gameplay loop can get a bit tiresome in the later stages of the game, however, there are ways of speeding some of this up. Overall, Three Houses is an exceptional game that stands tall as one of the Nintendo Switch’s best first-party games. It is a must play if you own the system.
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